The DNC Debate Rule Change That Finished Off Tulsi Shows Why They Can Never Be Trusted


When American Samoa came up after Super Tuesday, it usually had to do with it being the epitaph on Michael Bloomberg’s $500 million night of futility.

After spending half a billion dollars on an idiosyncratic bid to inundate America with advertisements and start his campaign on Super Tuesday, Bloomberg didn’t even reach the delegate threshold in plenty of the states he spent grotesque amounts of money in.

He did, though, score one win — American Samoa.

However, there was another curiosity about the American overseas territory: It also gave Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard a delegate, her first.

This, in and of itself, isn’t huge news. The issue for the Democratic National Committee is that, according to reports, they’ve been inviting everyone with a delegate to recent debates.

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“Candidates who had at least one pledged delegate automatically qualified for the debates that took place in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina earlier this year,” Fox News reported Wednesday.

We’ve seen Tulsi Gabbard on Democratic debate stages before.

Quite frankly, she can be one of the few reasons to actually tune in — which is why the Democrats quickly decided to make sure everyone knew that the rules for the next debate would be significantly changed.

Of course.

That’s DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa, tweeting Tuesday night (after it became clear Gabbard would have a delegate) that the “have a delegate, have a podium” rule was likely to be changed because the former rules now meant Gabbard, least favorite candidate of Hillary Clinton and the woman who more or less ended Kamala Harris’ run, would be on stage at this late date.

By the way, there isn’t a while lot to sneeze at when it comes to a single delegate.

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Do you think Tulsi Gabbard should be on the debate stage?

Billionaire tartan-tie enthusiast Tom Steyer didn’t even get one and was regularly on debate stages.

Amy Klobuchar only got seven , although she likely would have gotten quite a few more from Minnesota on Super Tuesday. (If her home state weren’t on the roster, however, she should have been prepared to stay at seven.)

“Hinojosa did not elaborate on what the new requirements will be, but if Gabbard fails to secure more delegates in next week’s primaries, she could be left out of the next debate in Arizona on March 15,” Fox News said.

Response to this wasn’t, shall we say, universally positive:

I understand most of the responses to a tweet like this are going to be negative.

However, I’ve never quite seen a partisan tweet with as few defenders as this one. After scrolling through a deluge of responses, I only found two responses in favor, this being the only substantive one:

Except this is hardly an academic experiment.

What does this undermine?

The DNC loosened the debate requirements with the tacit goal of letting Mike Bloomberg on stage after taking significant criticism for tightening them to the point where candidates of color were no longer appearing in debates.

(They also refused to conduct additional polling, as per Andrew Yang’s request, to see if any other candidates like Pacific-islander Gabbard, Sen. Cory Booker or Julián Castro could qualify after failing to do so for a December event in Los Angeles.) This seems to have worked out well for Bloomberg.

With Elizabeth Warren’s Thursday morning exit from the race, there are three candidates remaining in the Democratic race: former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gabbard.

No, Gabbard doesn’t have the pull of either Biden or Bernie.

In fact, it’s safe to say only two of them have chances, and it’s the old, white men. That said, a third candidate who’s had a significant media draw, even if she doesn’t have flashy numbers, isn’t exactly a stretch.

Gabbard’s strange mix of policy proposals may not strike you as particularly interesting or salable. In fact, much of her popularity on the right comes from her refusal to vote yes on impeachment, her war of words with Hillary and her legendary “Stop! Stop! She’s already dead!” interaction with Kamala Harris.

That said, given the length of these debates and the fact we’ve had clown-car symposiums before, the idea there’s no room for a third candidate on stage is absurd. This is why nobody with any sense can trust the DNC.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture